- OHIO CAHAL
To My Friend
Justice William O. Douglas
Justice William O. Douglas,
shown here at Dam 4 on the
1973 Annual Justice Douglas
Hike of the Chesapeake and Ohio
Canal Association, was the
leader of the effort to save
the canal from becoming
a highway and to convince the
Congress that it should be
made a national park. (Jack
Rottier, National Park Service)
CHESAPEAKE AND OHIO CANAL
Old Picture Album
By Thomas F. Hahn, LA.
The American Canal & Transportation Center
P.O. Box 310, Shepherdstown, W.Va. 25443
Fourth Printing May 1985
All rights reserved. This book may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, in
any form (except by reviewers), without permission from the author.
Copyright Thomas F. Hahn 1976
For many years I have enjoyed studying the history, the engineering and the architecture of the Chesapeake
and Ohio Canal. My work as Supervisor of the Restored Section of the C & O. Canal and as a consultant for
Industrial Archeology for the National Park Service, during which time Joseph R. Prentice and I worked nearly
three years in the field on the canal compiling some 30 volumes of data, intensified that enjoyment. In this study
we found that one of the best sources of information was historical photographs.
We begin to see photographs of the canal in the 1860s during the Civil War. In fact, some of the
Brady/Handy photographs of that period remain as examples of excellence in photography today. After the war
there is a paucity of photos until the late 1880s. Photographs then become more common and we have a fairly
good selection in the first two decades or so through the end of the operating period in 1924. Unfortunately,
photographers take pictures of the same things, so that there are many photos of the same places in the historic
operating period, but many gaps. Beginning about 1938, with the acquisition of the canal by the National Park
Service, we see a more systematic study of the canal as different considerations began to develop as to the use of the
canal. For this reason, I have selected some photos which are historical, but not of the canal operating period, so as
to lend a feeling of continuity as we travel from one end of the canal to the other.
My associate, Bill Shank, and I thought that with the American Bicentennial occurring this year, and with
the 150th anniversary of the beginning of construction of the C. & O. Canal only two years away, that this would
be the ideal time to bring out a book on some of the old time scenes on the old C. & O. Canal. I have selected 100
of some of my favorites to share with you. I hope you like looking at them as much as I did selecting them.
Captain Tom Hahn, USN (Ret.), I. A.
Shepherdstown, West Virginia
A Short History of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal
The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal was begun as a proposed waterway along the established Potomac and
trans- Allegheny trade route to the Ohio River. It was the economic heir of the old Potomack Company which had
attempted unsuccessively from 1785 to 1828 to fulfill George Washington's dream of developing a practical
water route through the Potomac Valley.
Construction of the C. & O. Canal started on July 4, 1828. After much glowing oratory President John
Quincy Adams turned the first spade of dirt. On the same day, construction of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad
began in Baltimore. The race for the West across the Alleghenies was on!
From the beginning the canal was beset with many problems. Lumber, building stone, lime for cement, and
other building supplies were often scarce and expensive. Excavation frequently revealed unexpected hardpan,
slate, or gravel which made the work difficult and costly. Many difficulties were encountered in securing land
titles for the right-of-way. Land costs were frequently above estimate and excessively high.
Because the Potomac was predominantly agricultural, skilled labor was virtually unobtainable. The canal
company turned to Europe for indentured labor. Men arriving from Ireland, Germany, Netherlands, England
and Wales soon provided a pool of stone cutters, masons, carpenters, and laborers. Welsh miners were imported
to dig Paw Paw Tunnel. Many workers became the unwitting victims of unscrupulous contractors. Food was
often poor and housing consisted of makeshift dwellings. Diseases swept through the labor camps. Because of
rivalries and prejudices the workers brought with them from Europe, there was much fighting between groups.
Sometimes the men rioted when they weren't paid and the militia had to be called out. On top of these troubles,
the B. & O. Railroad continued to press westward.
Canal and railroad were soon competing for property rights. The C. & O. Canal Company had decided to
locate its waterway along the north bank of the Potomac River in Maryland. The B. & O. was organized in such
haste that the final decision concerning its route was not made until after it had gotten underway. The railroad
then decided to construct its line from Baltimore through Frederick to Point of Rocks in the Potomac Valley.
Confident of securing the right-of-way in the Potomac Valley inherited from the old Potomack Company, the
C. & O. Canal Company directors proceeded in a leisurely fashion to secure necessary land titles. However, the
railroad moved up aggressively and sent agents far up the valley to secure land rights from the inhabitants at many
points — particularly at the narrow gorge above Point of Rocks. Because the bluffs came close to the river, there
was room for only one of the lines. The B. & O. Railroad claimed the right-of-way and secured an injunction
against the canal company. The canal company appealed and the courts eventually ruled in the canal's favor — thus
ending a four-year bitter struggle.
The canal was used as each section was completed: first, from Georgetown to Seneca in 1831; then to
Harpers Ferry in 1833; and to near Hancock in 1839, 134 miles from its beginning in Georgetown. About this
time the canal encountered serious financial problems and the next 50. 5 miles to Cumberland were not completed
until 1850 — eight years after the railroad reached that point. And with that, the C. & O. Canal Company
dropped its plans to continue another 180 miles.
The company had spent $ 12 million to build 184.5 miles of canal consisting of 74 lift locks which raised it
from sea level at Georgetown to 610 feet at Cumberland, 1 1 stone aqueducts which carried the canal over major
Potomac tributaries, seven dams to supply water for the canal, a number of waste weirs to control the water level,
about 200 culverts to carry roads and streams under the canal, a 3, 1 18-foot tunnel to take it under a mountain,
and an assortment of stop gates, river locks, guard locks, bridges, shops, section houses, and lock houses.
The canal generally was 50 to 60 feet wide at towpath level, sloped to 30 to 40 feet at the bottom and carried
a minimum depth of six feet of water. The size of the locks— 15 feet wide and 90 feet long in the clear- restricted
the size of the boats. A typical canal boat was 14. 5 feet wide, 92 feet long (by putting the rudder to the side it
could fit in the 90 foot lock), drew 4.5 feet of water, and could carry up to 135 tons of cargo, though 120 tons of
coal was the normal maximum load.
The canal did not attain any great measure of economic success, but it provided a prominent and leisurely
means of transporting coal, flour, grain, and lumber to Washington. In the early summer of 1889, a titanic flood
swept the Potomac Valley, leaving the canal in ruin. However, it was rebuilt and used until 1924, when another
flood seriously damaged the already financially troubled canal company.
The canal and its property were sold by the receivers of the canal company in 1938 to the United States,
under the stewardship of the National Park Service of the Department of Interior. During the period 1939-1942
the lower 22 miles of the canal were restored and watered. In 1961, within hours of President Kennedy's
inauguration, President Eisenhower declared the canal a National Monument. After many years of unsuccessful
legislation, the Canal finally became the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park on 8 January 1972.
Unfortunately, just at the time restoration began to get underway, along came Tropical Storm Agnes in
June of 1972, severely damaging many of the fragile structures of the canal. Since that time, funds appropriated
by Congress have been spent mostly on the preservation of weakened aqueducts, culverts and locks, with much of
the towpath restored to provide continuity for hikers, bikers and horseback riders. ( Adapted from the interpretive
brochure on the C. & 0. Canal by the National Park Service.)
Lock House B on the Washington Branch of the C. & O. Canal. Its location at 17th & Constitution in Washington, D.C. is at
its original site. This branch canal, connecting the main line of the C. & O. at its Georgetown terminus at the mouth of Rock
Creek, brought cargo into the markets of Washington, and formed a link with the Washington City Canal. (Library of Con-
gress, Brady/Handy photo, c. 1860)
Georgetown Tidal Lock at the confluence of Rock Creek and the Potomac River. This is "Mile Zero" of the C. & O. Canal. The
structure near the center is a tumbling dam, with lift gates, across Rock Creek. After passing through the Tidal Lock, boats
traveled .3 miles up Rock Creek to Lift Lock 1, where they entered the canal proper. The beginning of the Washington Branch
of the C. & O. would have been about where the gas tank is on the far side of Rock Creek.
M Street bridge over Rock Creek between 26th and 27th Streets. Canal boats used Rock Creek from Tidal Lock to Lock 1 in
Georgetown and occasionally above Lock 1 a short distance up Rock Creek. This site is upstream of Lock 1 ; the stored packet is
unidentified. The two cable-car trains of the Washington & Georgetown Railroad date the photo between 1892 and 1897.
Lock 1, Georgetown. The City of Washington can be seen in the background. Though canal boats entered Rock Creek at the
Tidal Lock .3 mile below, this is the beginning of the cut canal itself. The towpath is normally on the river side of the canal, but in
Georgetown, between Locks 41 and 42 and from Lock 45 to Lock 46 it is on the land side of the canal.
Lock 3, Georgetown. The "Veterinary Hospital" across the lock previously housed the Duvall Foundry which was built c. 1856
The towpath was put on the land side of the canal in Georgetown so as to keep the commercial area on the river side free for a
road and for loading and unloading. The freight boat passing through the lock is "light" or unloaded as indicated by the way it
rides high in the water. Coal was the normal cargo from Cumberland downstream; boats traveled with little or no cargo on the
return trip upstream. (National Park Service)
Wisconsin Avenue (Old High Street) Bridge was one of five stone bridges over the canal in Georgetown. Faded plaques in the face
of the Aquia freestone list C. H. Dibble as Builder, Charles Mercer as President (of the canal company), Thomas Purcell
Superintendent, Andrew Jackson President. (Library of Congress)
Francis Scott Key lived in this house near present-day Key Bridge. In this house, Key is said to have first read the Star Spangled
Banner before a meeting of his glee club. The Key family left the house in the 1830's because of the turbulence caused by the
construction of the canal in back of their house.
The Potomac Aqueduct, with Georgetown across the river. The arches in the abutment on the Maryland side of the river were to
accommodate the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. The figures in the foreground are typical of those found in Brady/Handy
photographs. The Potomac Aqueduct, built 1833-1843, carried the 7 mile 416 yard Alexandria Canal on its way from its
connection with the C. & O. Canal in Georgetown to Alexandria. (Library of Congress, 1865)
After the Civil War in 1868, a new truss was built to support the Potomac Aqueduct and it was reinforced by huge side arches. A
road was added on top of the trusses, making a two-level bridge with canal traffic on the bottom and road traffic on top. (Library
of Congress, c. 1879-1887)
This is a very old drawing of the western end of Georgetown looking west along what was later Canal Road (or Aqueduct Road)
from what is now Key Bridge. The canal later flowed through this same area between the road and the river, with the same
Three Sister Islands in view in the river. (Library of Congress)
Canal boats stopped above Georgetown to await orders as to where they were to unload. In 1875, the peak year of the canal,
nearly one million tons of cargo were carried in about 540 boats, typical of those tied up here along the towpath. (Thompson
Collection, National Park Service)
The Ludlow Patton, steam canal boat, made its maiden run from Cumberland to Georgetown in December 1875 in record time.
The patent for its propeller-raising device was granted to Henry G. Wagner of Georgetown who built the boat, on 21 April 1876.
The boat was built in Cumberland, but the machinery was made at the Duvall Foundry in Georgetown. (The National Gallery of
• , . yj
The Mission on the Towpath was established first in 1894 by Mrs. S. E. Safford, in a small brick house, then in 1913 in this frame
building. Mrs. Safford taught canallers' children to read and write, instructed adults in the industrial arts to help them find
jobs off the canal in the winter and assisted them in finding housing in the winter.
The Georgetown Inclined Plane, completed in 1876, carried boats from canal level to river level via wooden caissons mounted on
wheels. It was operated initially by water power and then by steam, remaining in operation several years. Once at the bottom of
the incline, boats made their way into the river via the outlet shown here. (Thompson Collection, National Park Service)
Chain Bridge over the canal and Potomac River during the Civil War was one of the three bridge crossings from the District
of Columbia into Virginia. The first Union Army sentinel to be court-martialed for sleeping at his post during the war had
fallen asleep at the District end of the bridge, but he was later saved from execution by President Lincoln. (William M. Smith
Photo, Library of Congress c. 1862)
Lock 6 at Brookmont was called Magazine Lock, (so named for the U.S. Powder Magazine located just around the curve of the
canal, near the spot where President John Quincy Adams turned the first spade of dirt for the beginning of the C. & O. Canal on
4 July 1828.) The locktender is about to lower the drop gate with the mechanism in the shed as the water in the lock is even with
the water in the level above the lock.
Lock 6 (Magazine Lock). One of the reasons the canal was not as efficient for some cargo as the railroad was that it became
necessary to shut it down in the winter. Exactly when the canal closed and when it opened varied with the kind of winter in a
given year. Canallers tried to get "one more trip" in, naturally, but the penalty for cutting it too close meant the possibility of
being stuck in some inconvenient place for the winter. Is it as cold as it looks here at Lock 6? Yes, as the author and his family
lived here for three years, we can say that it is.
Lock 7 was a popular place because of its nearness to the National Chataqua at Glen Echo which finally failed, in part due to an
outbreak of malaria. The telephone lines running along the towpath were a part of a telephone system established in 1879, the
longest (200 mile) existing at the time.
The Cabin John Bridge, built for vehicular traffic and to carry water to Washington from Great Falls, was begun in 1857 and
completed in 1864, at the time of completion the largest single arch span in the western hemisphere. Red sandstone from Seneca
and granite from Quincy, Massachusetts were carried to the site via the canal which had a lock to pass boats from the canal to a
pool formed in dammed up Cabin John Creek, as shown in the foreground. (Library of Congress, c. 1864)
Lock 8, first of Seven Locks. The boat is probably the canal company pay boat. The house was constructed in 1829 and first
occupied in 1830. Solomon Drew was the lock keeper at a salary of $100 a year. The house is an 18' by 30' stone structure with
two rooms on each floor, typical of the lower part of the canal. The hut at the head of the lock is the "wait" house or "dog
house" which sheltered the lock keeper at busy times when it was inconvenient to go in and out of the lock house. (National Park
As Lock 9 is very close to Lock 10, the same lock keeper initially served both locks, but as traffic increased, the appearance of the
frame structure, much larger than the ordinary "wait house" (which also appears here) indicates that at some time in the
operating period a lock keeper was assigned to the lock. (National Park Service)
Rock (or Rocky) Run culvert between Locks 10 and 11, is one of approximately 180 culverts which carried streams under the
canal, this one being more elaborate and of heavier construction than most. The culverts are outstanding examples of stone
masonry seldom seen by the average person using the towpath.
Lock 11, Seven Locks. Though the stone lock houses on the lower part of the canal were almost identical, the only differences
being whether the house had a central chimney or two end chimneys (which determined where the windows were on the sides of
the house as well), some had side porches, or back porches or a stoop of some kind on the front. (National Park Service, 1938)
This beautiful lock house at Lock 13 was destroyed for the construction of the Capital Beltway (1-495). Why the highway had to
go over this attractive spot exactly, and why highway planners usually have their way, is beyond me. The lock now sits in a
"No-Mans- Land" type of setting, with no vegetation and runoff from the highway bridge eroding the lands surrounding it.
Stone for the lock was "Granite from the country . . . transported by land 4% miles with the exception of the coping and hollow
quoins, which are from Seneca." (National Park Service, 1938)
Lock 14, last of the Seven Locks, had a frame lock house rather than the stone ones typical of the lower part of the canal. The
house, fence, out buildings, balance beams and the exposed walls of the locks themselves were whitewashed so as to provide more
visibility. The stream coming in at the right is excess water from the canal level above carried around the lock in a bypass flume.
(Brady-Handy, Library of Congress)
The Potomac Granite Company was one of the many companies which took advantage of good access to the canal and boats by
building right on the berm bank of the canal. Though coal was by far the principal cargo, building materials probably came in
second. (National Park Service)
An old river channel was used at Widewater to save constructing an expensive canal section, creating a very pretty 3 A mile lake,
with depths up to 40 feet. Unfortunately, the river still likes to use its old channel on occasion, as it did in 1936 before the lower
22 miles of the canal were restored and again in 1942 and 1972. Massive repair work was required to restore the canal so that it
could be re-watered, as shown in this 1940 photograph.
Though there is seldom a problem with a constant supply of water when a canal is built alongside a river, there is always the
problem of flooding. The 1924 flood helped put an end to the canal in that year, with damage typical to that done here at the Six
Locks at Great Falls.
Lock 15 is the first of the series of locks known as Six Locks, located in an old river channel which begins at Lock 18, which
necessitated the building of the stone-filled log cribs from the lock to the berm shore. The lock was rebuilt in the winter of
1871-1872. Two lock houses have existed here in the past. The first was a stone one on the towpath side of the lock which was
demolished in the flood of 1889. The one shown here was built about 10 years later, but was later destroyed by a fire. (National
Operating a lock, such as in this scene at Lock 15, Six Locks, near Great falls, required teamwork. In this case it was a family
effort, with father and son manning the balance beams while mother managed the tiller. As she is wearing an apron, she might
have taken time from her cooking to lend a hand in going through the lock. (Thompson Collection, National Park Service)
As at Lock 15, stone-filled log cribs are necessary at Lock 16 to contain the pool of water on the berm side of the lock, giving the
lock a more massive appearance than most. It appears that the house boat (complete with portable outdoor toilet ) is being towed
by the steam launch in front. (Thompson Collection, National Park Service)
k ft*l* , <*
The 2 V; story lock house at Lock 16 (Six Locks) was built c. 1837. Features of its design show that it was not built by the original
lock house specifications adopted in 1828, but probably followed the specifications adopted in 1836. In spite of its closeness to
Washington and the Great Falls Tavern, the family which lived here were pretty much by themselves. (Thompson Collection,
National Park Service)
Again in this scene in the Six Locks area of Great Falls there is a woman at the tiller, while the men carried out the more
strenuous task of opening the balance beams and perhaps helping the lock keeper crank open the wicket gates in the large
wooden gates. The wooden posts at the side of the lock were the snubbing boats around which lines were wound to help steady
the boat against the surging of water in the lock. (Thompson Collection, National Park Service)
Just below the Great Falls of the Potomac the canal was built between cliffs on the land side and a high heavy slope wall as high as
56 feet, with a sheer drop to an arm of the river in the deep curving Mather Gorge below. It must have been quite an experience
riding along here in a canal boat! The stop gate in the background across the canal was there to stop off water from the river in
time of flood.
fi& nmmv .
In 1936 the house at Lock 18 was just a shell, having burned just a few years before. Today the only thing remaining is a corner of
the building and some of the foundation stones.
There are many photographs of the Great Falls Tavern or Crommelin House, as it was officially known, but this one of 1889 is
my favorite, showing the staff and inhabitants or habitues. The central portion (where the people are) was the original
structure, built in 1829, and used as a lock house, with the enlarged portion finished in 1832. The building today is used as an
Interpretive Center and as the Ranger Station for the Palisade District. (D.C. Public Library)
And what could be more natural when visiting Great Falls, but to see the falls at a fare most could afford. This old bridge went
across an arm of the river at a point just opposite Lock 20. The only thing remaining of the bridge is a bit of one of the stone-
filled timbered cribs. The timbers are said to have come from the Maryland Gold Mine. (Thompson Collection, Nat'l. Pk. Ser.)
Lock 22 (Pennyfield Lock) was a favorite base for President Cleveland's bass fishing expeditions and he stayed often at the
Pennyfield's white frame house back on the berm. (Thompson Collection, National Park Service)
Farmers in the Seneca area used the canal to ship produce and crops to the Washington market, as attested by the storage
buildings on the berm here at Riley's Lock (Lock 24). As a boat passed through the lock it went immediately into the aqueduct
which carried the canal over Seneca Creek.
Boats on the canal, as cars on the highway, tend to bunch up. On the canal, boats going the same two-or-three mile per hour
speed, tended to do this most often at the locks, such as these boats approaching Edwards Ferry. The boats are riding high in the
water, so that we would know they were going empty or "light''' upstream, even if we couldn't see the towpath on the left.
(Thompson Collection, National Park Service)
Goose Creek River Lock. This interesting two-lock combine, completed 1837-1838, was devised to serve boats from the Goose
Creek and Little River Navigation in Virginia. This river lock, the one opposite the Shenandoah River at Harpers Ferry and the
one opposite Shepherdstown, West Virginia, were demanded by the Virginia legislature of 1833 to provide a market for Virginia
products in return for the purchase of C. & O. Canal stock. (National Park Service, 1956)
Lock 25 (Edwards Ferry) was a busy little settlement with a granary, and general store and a ferry. The swing (or pivot) bridge
which carried wagons and other vehicles across the lock to the ferry is in the closed position, where it would remain to allow
passage until a boat would lock through, at which time it was swung aside. The log lying alongside the towpath was to keep
towlines from snagging on the stone wall. (Thompson Collection, National Park Service)
- is*- \
- -,*— .
tin .-. _>■
t, / i fft.
v- 1 \
^a^^s*** 1 *-
'•c ■ *- ■ r -*.*.. -
Granaries such as this one at Whites Ferry were common along the canal, particularly at settlements and where roads ran to the
canal and river. Canal boats tied up to the wall in front of the granary where grain was discharged directly into boats by chutes.
(Historic American Building Survey, 1961)
Lock 26 (Woods Lock), is in a remote rural setting. The lock house is another one of the many which through the years has
mysteriously burned, as do many other abandoned buildings in the country. The stone for the lock was boated up from Seneca.
(National Park Service, c. 1940)
Broad Run Trunk is one of the most interesting features of the canal - the only wooden aqueduct carrying the canal over Broad
Run, referred to as a culvert in the canal records. (Historic American Building Survey, 1961)
This is the view we saw several years ago of the Monocacy Aqueduct until Agnes came along in 1972 and ripped off the
coping (cap) stones and much of the railing. Most of the damage has now been repaired.
This photo of Catoctin Creek Aqueduct was taken the day after its collapse on 31 October 1973. The structure had been in a
weakened condition for many years prior to this date, when a local flood finished off two arches of the aqueduct, leaving only one
standing. Today a foot bridge upstream of the aqueduct permits passage around it. (Jack Rottier, National Park Service)
Lock 30 (Brunswick) was one of three locks extended upstream in 1875 so as to permit two boats to pass through a lock
simultaneously. When both locks were in operation there would have been a set of lock gates at the upper end of the extension,
near where the post is sticking out of the ground in the photo. Brunswick has always been a busy railroad town, and the sight of
railroad cars as shown here would have been a common sight to canallers. (National Park Service)
Floods have always been a problem in the Harpers Ferry area, but the 1889 flood solved the housing problem for at least one
person here, below Maryland Heights. Actually, derelict canal boats provided homes for many people both during and after the
canal operating period. (Thompson Collection, National Park Service)
This scene at Sandy Hook was a favorite one, the photo being used in B. & O. Railroad stations for many years, probably to
deride the slowness of its rival, the C. & O. Canal. An agreement reached in the 1830's required the railroad to build a high
board fence between the railroad and canal so that locomotives would not frighten the tow animals. The fence was never built,
but for a time steam locomotives were unhooked at Point of Rocks and the railroad cars pulled by horses to Harpers Ferry.
It was near this point where the Shenandoah River Lock entered the Potomac River from the C. & O. Canal so as to receive
boats from the Shenandoah Navigation just across the river at Harpers Ferry where the Shenandoah enters the Potomac River,
as shown in the left of the photograph. Note how denuded Harpers Ferry had become through the years with the extensive use of
wood for fuel and charcoal. (John Frye)
Lock 33 (Harpers Ferry Lock) about 1876 was a center of activity. All the buildings have been destroyed by flood and fire, and
only the ruin of the Salty Dog Saloon remains to remind us of the events which took place here. John Cook, an advance man tor
John Brown, married a local girl and tended the lock here as part of his cover.
Little is known of the history of the Salty Dog Tavern which nestled against the cliff back of Lock 33. It is thought that the name
is not as old as the building, as it (the name) was probably taken from a song sung in the tavern which was popular in the
early 1900s. The goat in the left of the drawing may have been one of the ancestors of the wild goats which now inhabit the
cliff of Maryland Heights.
There has been a dam across the Potomac River above Harpers Ferry for nearly 175 years, first for the Potomac Company for
the canal around Houses Falls and for the Government Armory, later for C. & O. Canal, and now again for diverting water to
the Government Canal to serve Harpers Ferry hydroelectric plant. In 1938 we could see this view of the stone-filled log and
timbered cribs which formed the dam, its zigzagging course taking advantage of the rock outcrops in the river. (Nat'l. Pk. Ser.)
The C. & O. Canal was watered by seven feeder dams which impounded water to be fed into the canal in controlled amounts.
The water impounded by Dam 3 above Harpers Ferry was carried to the canal below Lock 35 by this feeder canal. In the
background can be seen the "mule bridge" which carried the towpath over the feeder canal. Boats were able to cross to the West
Virginia shore at this point to load cargo which would then be transported down the C. & O. Canal. (National Park Service)
m j .
Antietam Creek Aqueduct is No. 4 in a series of 11 stone aqueducts on the canal. Much of this beautiful 140-foot structure was
blasted down above the arches during the Civil War in 1864. (Historic American Building Survey, 1961)
Shepherdstown River Lock was one of three lift locks designed specifically to allow canal boats access to the Virginia shore and
navigations. The lock was used until 1889, at which time a flood swept away the dam below here which impounded water so that
boats could enter the lock. (Brooks Lucas)
The level below Shepherdstown was a favorite place to spend the night as can be seen in this canalside scene. The portable feed
troughs for the mules were held in place by stakes driven in the ground. In the background is the Norfolk and Western Railroad
trestle as well as the piers of the earlier Shenandoah Valley Railroad. Behind last boat is Shepherdstown Lock. (John Frye)
Bridgeport, the settlement surrounding Lock 38 across the river from Shepherdstown, West Virginia, was once a thriving area,
with an inn, a feed store, and with the manse of Ferry Hill Plantation overlooking the canal. Henry Kyd Douglas, Jackson's
youngest staff officer, lived at Ferry Hill and in 1859 inadvertently helped John Brown (known as Isaac Smith) climb the hill
with an overloaded wagon. The bridge across the river washed out in the 1936 flood. (Brooks Lucas)
The lock house at Lock 38 (Shepherdstown Lock) was a welcome one to canallers in the early 1900's who stopped here to buy
bread and pie from Cora Hebb, the wife of the lock keeper. Unfortunately, the lock house and all the out buildings were swept
away in the 1936 flood. The modern James Rumsey bridge now passes directly over the lock.
Caves are one of the interesting natural attractions in the limestone area of the canal. Killings (or Killiansburg) Cave is one of
the shelter caves used by the residents of Sharpsburg during the Battle of Antietam.
The Dam 4 area always sustained heavy damage during floods of the Potomac River. To minimize the effect on the canal, a stop
gate was built opposite to the dam. When flood water threatened the canal, the gate was lowered via the mechanism housed in
the building, thus turning aside the main thrust of the rushing water.
This canal boat scene at Lock 42 shows us several small details about canal operation and canal life. We can see a portion of the
windlass by which some of the strain of opening the heavy lock gates was avoided. Fishing in the river or canal (or both) may
have been good here from the nets above the out building on the right. Most children like to have pets, and these boys seem to
have a pigeon in a box for theirs. Wooden biscuit boxes seem to have been handy aboard a boat. The metal objects next to the
boys which at first glance seem to be dippers on closer inspection seem to be bells. It appears that they have brought out prized
possessions for the benefit of the photographer.
Lock 44 in Williamsport is in an attractive setting. The frame house shown here in the post-operating period was the section or
division superintendent's house. There is reason to believe that there was a lock house here at one time on the berm side of the
lock. Even today the lock stones retain their nice contrasting lighter and darker colors. (National Park Service, 1961)
This vertical lift bridge over the canal built in 1923 to carry Western Maryland Railway spur over the canal to bring coal into a
steam generating station at Williamsport may have been little used, or perhaps not at all, as the canal went out of operation
several months after the completion of the bridge. The structure is unique and may be the smallest vertical lift bridge in the
world. (National Park Service c. 1965)
Williamsport has probably always been THE canal town of the C. & O. Canal, not only from its mid-canal location, but because
so many of the activities of the town were canal-oriented. Even before the canal was built, Williamsport had a lively commerce
developed through the use of small boats and rafts using the Potomac River. There was always some activity here at Cushwas
Wharf, where coal and other cargo was offloaded for trans-shipment. (National Park Service)
The Conococheague Aqueduct is the 5th of 11 stone aqueducts, with three equal arch spans of 60 feet each, extending 210 feet
between abutments. The upstream wall of the aqueduct collapsed in 1920 when Captain Frank Myers of Boat No. 73 struck
the berm wall a light blow. Capt. Myers saw the wall beginning to waver and called to his step-son, Joseph Davis, who was at the
western end of the aqueduct to cut the mules loose, which he did, with no loss of life.
The Guard Lock at Dam 5 is a massive structure built in a rocky setting. From this lock canal boats entered the "Little
Slackwater" behind Dam 5. In order to tow the boats from a path along the river, the mules crossed over to the land side of the
lock and thence along the river to Lock 46 where the towpath once again crossed over to the river side of the canal and remained
there to Cumberland. The couple standing at the lower lock gates are Lock Keeper Dan and Mrs. Sterling.
There was rather a unique arrangement above Dam 5. Unloaded or "light" boats went up the channel next to the river, but
loaded boats (the ones going downstream) used the river outside the strip of land shown in the center of the photo. When the
boat was not under control, there was bound to be trouble, as on 1 May 1903 at this spot when the tow boy cut or otherwise
caused the mules to break the tow rope, Captain Kime and his daughter were swept over the dam. Captain Kime survived, but
his daughter was killed. The frightened tow boy ran away. (National Park Service)
There are several places where it is necessary for mules to cross from one side of the canal to the other. One of the places is at
Lock 46 (Two Locks) where the mule crossover bridge carries the towpath from its short stint on the land side of the canal from
Lock 45 back over to its normal position on the river side of the canal.
Charles Mill below Four Locks. There are three Charles Mills on the canal, or which have had the name Charles Mill
sometime in their history. Most mills changed names as the owners changed, but as far as we know, the mill here has always
been Charles Mill. The mill operated an I8V2' diameter by 4'6" wide overshot water wheel to run this old grist mill, which at
one time was a plaster mill according to historical records. The mill took water from Camp Run, which was its normal source
of water power, and from the canal in periods of low water. (National Park Service, 1916)
Four Locks. The four closely spaced locks here were constructed to raise the canal bed some 32 additional feet in order to cross
Prather's Neck. The river makes a five mile long loop at the point, and the construction of these locks saved about four miles of
canal construction. To the extreme right was a drydock on the berm side of Lock 47 and this photo shows a boat in the dock. Note
that the building at the next lock upstream, Lock 48, was located over the bypass flume and used the water of the flume to man
machinery in the shop inside. (John Frye)
The old mule barn above Lock 50 at Four Locks was used to keep feed and to house mules over the winter period when the
weather closed the canal. It is of frame and typical early period mortice, tenon and wooden pin frame construction, and seems
quite old except for the rafters, nailing strips and the galvanized iron roof. The barn was restored by the Park Service in 1975.
(National Park Service c. 1960)
One difficulty about a canal is getting from one side to the other. With the lock gates closed, one could clamber across the
catwalk, but that wasn't always so easy. On the other hand, bridges were a problem as they interfered with the passing boats.
Here at Fort Frederick are two of the ways that the crossing problem was handled; a permanent bridge, 17-feet high was built
for pedestrians, and a swinging or pivot bridge was built for vehicles. The bridges were placed at this narrow structure formed
by the masonry for the stop gate, placed at the bottom of Big Pool so as to prevent the escape of water when repairs necessitated
draining the level below. (National Park Service)
Hancock, Maryland is one of the principal towns along the canal, an important road center even before the construction of the
canal. Old names for the town were The Connolloways, North Bend and Hancock Town. Old taverns in the town (no longer
existing) were Sign of the Cross Keys, Sign of the Green Tree, Sign of the Ship, Union Inn and Sign of the Seven Stars. The old
bridge over the canal and Potomac River seen in the background washed away in the 1936 flood.
This is the Round Top Cement Company ahove Hancock in 1907. In point of fact, the cement plant began operations in 1837,
and much of the cement and mortar used in the masonry of canal structures was produced here. First known as Shafer's
Cement Mill, it changed to the present name in 1863. The shed-like structure on the right is in front of the row of eight lime-
kilns; the smoke stack on the left is part of the steam generating plant, used to power the machinery for grinding lime burned
in the kilns. (Mr. Truax)
This was a busy area for many years, for it was here at Dam 6 that the canal terminated from 1842 until 1850, with canal boats
passing to the West Virginia side of the river to pick up coal from the railroad, probably through this feeder canal. The boat is
passing through Lock 53 and will soon be passing through Lock 54 just ahead. Unfortunately, the lock house and the out
buildings are now all gone. (National Park Service)
This tranquil scene belies the fact that floods never failed to leave their mark on Dam 6. The 1877 flood seriously damaged the
abutments; the 1886 flood tore a hole in the center of the dam; the canal-killer, the "Johnstown" flood of 1889 virtually
destroyed the structure, completely washing away 100 feet of the breast, but it was back in service in 1891. The 1924 flood which
helped to finish off the canal did little damage, but the 1936 and 1942 floods turned the structure into the rubble one sees today.
This may be the only dam which burned, as the 475 foot wooden structure of the dam was accidentally set afire by a fisherman
and blazed away out of control.
This 1938 photograph of Dam 6 shows the detail of the dam which we could see at that time. Today there are only a few of the
timbers left, though there is considerable rock rubble.
The frame board-and-batten lock house still exists at Lock 56 (Pearre). There used to be a general store near the lock and an old
hotel nearby, but both are now gone. The lock was completed in 1848 and a George M urkey was once a lock keeper here. (His-
toric American Building Survey, 1961)
Lock 58 is located in a remote part of the canal. Though it doesn't appear so, this was the first of 13 locks to use roughly-cut and
coursed stone in the lock walls covered with treated wood. Lack of suitable building material and a paucity of funds were the
reasons for going to this cheaper treatment. The treatment of the bypass flume in these upper locks is more formal than those
farther down, with a wall continuing into the berm bank. The frame lock house is no longer standing. (National Park Service)
Locking through, such as this boat is doing at Lock 60, gives those on board a chance to stretch their legs, and those on shore
something to look at. Undoubtedly, the ones most appreciative of the break in the routine are the mules which appear to be
taking their leisure in this scene. Another day will put this light boat back in Cumberland for another load of coal.
Busey Cabin is a canal structure seldom seen by canal travelers, either today or in the past, as it is located up Robey Hollow in a
very remote part of the canal off Kasecamp Road. The cabin is constructed of hewn logs chinked with mortar and was used as a
construction office during the building of the canal. (Historic American Building Survey, 1961)
The caption of this old photograph said that this is "At the lock below the cut'leading to the Canal Tunnel," which should make
it Lock 62 from the terrain and the elevation of the lock at the upper end. The old log lock house has long since disappeared in
this lonely part of the canal. (The Smithsonian Institution)
At several places along the canal were shops owned by the canal company for maintenance, repair and the manufacture of canal
items. This building at Lock 66 was a Carpenter Shop, here lock gates were made. At the time the photo was taken in about 1950,
there was still a lock gate being worked on when the building was abandoned. The shop is now gone, except for some rubble, as is
the lock house and all out buildings.
The interior of Lock 66 shows the type of wooden sheathing used over the rough stones used in the lock walls. A row of vertical
studs was first attached to the stone, and then a layer of horizontal planking followed by a vertical layer of planking. Concrete
used in 1906 and after, at this lock in the gate recesses. (National Park Service, 1958)
It has always been an adventure to go through the 3,118-foot Paw Paw Tunnel, whether on a working boat, an excursion boat
such as the OAK SPRING, or by foot. Work was undertaken in the tunnel from 1834 until 1850, though it was holed through in
1840. The tunnel cut leading to the downstream end of the tunnel necessitated the use of a wooden towpath for some distance.
Much of this end of the tunnel is now filled with debris from a landslide, a frequent occurrence here.
The enormity of the task of constructing the Paw Paw Tunnel can be appreciated partially by noting the tremendous cut needed
to even approach the tunnel. At the downstream (or north) portal the tunnel is lined first with stone, and then with brick four
courses thick except under the vertical ventilation shafts where it is six. The tunnel is 24' wide and has 11-foot sidewalls. The
towpath runs on a ledge about 4'. The height of the tunnel is 24%', 17W above the water line. (Photograph is in the 1960's)
As much as I have studied this old photograph, I cannot identify it. George W. "Hooper" Wolfe, early towboy and author of
I DROVE MULES, says that it could be one of the Oldtown Locks. The setting is similar to Lock 70, but the house is different
than that existing there today. Do we have any other guesses? We do know that George Swandol was the captain of Boat No. 10
in the 1918-1924 period. (National Park Service)
Railroads cross the canal many times between Georgetown and Cumberland, this crossing being Bridge No. 65 of the
canal's rival, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. Railroaders would rile canallers by shouting "Muskrat on the tiller!" and
similar phrases, and the canallers would have similar choice words in return. The "Three Locks" at North Branch are once
again built of stone. Lock 74 is in the foreground and Lock 75 is just ahead. (National Park Service)
Mules were very essential to the operation of the canal. Though horses were used in the construction of the canal, we see few
references to them in later years and hardly a photograph has a horse in it. The scene here at Lock 75 at North Branch shows
very nicely the harnessing arrangement and the attire of the tow boy, also called a "hoggee" and sometimes a "mule skinner".
(National Park Service)
Much time was spent by the lock keeper in his "shack" or "shanty" or "dog house" or "wait house" or any one of the number
of names given to the small structure which gave him shelter. Normally this building was located at the upstream end of lock
(for visibility) and, at this Lock 74, to give a little protection to the drop gate hoisting machinery and to the operator. It was
located on the berm side of the lock so as not to interfere with the operation of the towline. Note the improvised seat, a flag pole,
the smoke stack for his stove, a lantern, a wooden bucket for water, etc. To the right is the pivot bridge which crossed this lock.
(National Park Service)
Lock 75, the last of "Three Locks" at North Branch, is the last lift lock on the canal. At the lower end of the lock near the man,
who is probably the lock keeper, we see a type of roller windlass used to crank open the lock gates. Just below this we see a
stone-filled log crib which diverted the rushing water of the bypass flume from the side of the boat entering or leaving the lock.
The lock house is log chinked with mortar, with a board and batten wooden addition. (National Park Service)
Cumberland, Maryland is the place where the loading of coal took place, the place where canallers felt at home and lived and
caroused and wintered. The Cumberland end of the canal was a complex place with basins and wharfs and loading platforms.
Today the area is filled in and it is difficult to get the feeling of the activity which took place here during the busy operating days
of the canal.
are being loaded here and .he others are 'Tf^^^t^l^ Ombrtod and Pennsylvania, whereas .he
t 'c^tSnds r^SSSSftSlC £££=£. CoUecnon, Nadona, Para Serviee,
The twin Cumberland guard locks at mile 184.5 mark the end of the canal. A lock keeper's house once sat here. Skat Eaton and
his family long lived in the building here between the two guard locks, until about 1957. The railroad, once the canal's rival,
dominates the scene by passing heavily overhead the lock, seemingly oblivious of its once important role. (National Park
Service, in the 1950's)
I*— • : 4-»
This post-operating period (after 1924) photo shows the terminus at the guard locks into the Potomac River. The Western
Maryland bridge passes over Dam 8 which impounded water so that canal boats could operate above here, but more
importantly, so that water would flow into the canal, as the water flowing in here would supply SO'/i miles of canal - down to
Dam 6. The openings of the guard locks have now been filled in with concrete. (National Park Service)
•r.n \ '
— §*-■ t
The destruction of Dam 8 and the infilling of the canal basins in Cumberland marked the end of the integrity of the old canal in
Cumberland. Cumberland now seeks recognition for the end of the canal it once had and would seek again. The Corps of
Engineers destroyed this dam as part of a flood control project. It seems odd that the engineers always seem to want to build
dams in rivers where they don't exist, but if there is an old historic dam, it has to go. (National Park Service)
This drawing is the oldest known illustration of the canal. It was done by Lt. Washington Hood, U.S. Army, who wrote on the
back of the ink drawing "View of Harpers Ferry Approaching it by the Ches. and Ohio Canal, Monday 4th November
1833." (Prentiss Taylor).
The illustration on the front cover is a draw-
ing of Georgetown and the City of Washing-
ton in the 1860s. The structure across the
Potomac River is the Potomac Aqueduct
which linked the Chesapeake and Ohio
Canal in Georgetown with the Alexandria
Canal in Alexandria, Virginia.
The map on the back cover is Johnson's Map
of Delaware and Maryland showing the
route of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, the
Susquehanna and Tidewater Canal, the
Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, the Alex-
andria Canal, and a portion of the Pennsyl-
vania Main Line Canal.